This article examines the development of panel studies and their main characteristics. The first part of this article outlines the historical development of panel studies. Here special reference is made to the first panel studies ever undertaken, and the influence of Paul Lazarsfeld on this field of research. Thereafter, there is an overview of some recent national panel studies, and different approaches used in the analysis of panel data. The second part of this article concentrates on the panel study as a type of longitudinal research where special attention is given to a number of issues: unit of analysis, mode of data collection, time span between waves of data collection, duration of panel studies, research themes and policy influences, and opportunities for studying change at the individual (micro) level. In the final section, there is a discussion of the specific difficulties associated with panel study research.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.